Edmond Santa Fe quarterback Justice Hansen was ready to begin the 2012 football season immediately after the Wolves' loss to Jenks in the quarterfinals of the Class 6A playoffs last season.
“We were real eager (to get started),” the junior signal caller said Tuesday on the Wolves' opening day of practice. “From when we lost to Jenks in the playoffs, we were ready to get back out here and get better.”
Optimism abounds at Santa Fe. The Wolves are coming off a 10-2 season in Lance Manning's first year as head coach after Santa Fe won only four games the previous two years, including a miserable 1-9 season in 2010.
The first day of practice for Santa Fe this year just feels different than in the past, said senior linebacker/running back Phillip Sumpter.
“There is a lot is a lot of energy around here,” he said.
Manning agrees. Uncertainty has been replaced with promise. The bar is raised for this year's Santa Fe club after last year's resurgence.
“I think there is more of a definite expectation this year,” he said.
Manning even expects a better season from his quarterback, who threw for 2,558 yards and 25 touchdowns as a sophomore. Hansen also rushed for 529 yards and eight scores.
“I would expect huge gains,” Manning said. “Generally from a sophomore to a junior there is a big maturity level, not just physically but mentally as well.
“Justice is one of those kids that works so hard and commits that I would expect him to be much better this year than what he was last year. He showed signs of that all summer. I don't know why that wouldn't continue in the fall.”
Manning has plenty of offensive weapons to surround Justice, including Sumpter plus wide receivers Dale Jefferson and Trevan Smith.
On defense, safety Khari Harding already has committed to Arkansas and is one of the best players in state.
“I feel like we are more athletic on both sides of the ball,” Manning said.
Santa Fe went through a four-hour workout Tuesday morning with many short breaks, a schedule the Wolves will keep until Monday when they will start practicing at 3 p.m.
“If we are not acclimated to the heat, we better be by then,” Manning said.
The oppressive heat Tuesday didn't seem to bother the Wolves, who are anxious to start what could be a special season.
“No one is complaining about the heat,” Sumpter said. “We are just ready to play some football. We worked hard in the offseason for this day. We have been waiting for this day.”